As we start rounding out the first quarter of 2023, Houston’s craft beer scene shows no signs of slowing down. New breweries continue to pop up all around the greater Houston area while familiar names are rebranding their concepts completely.
No matter the case, Houston proudly boasts a maturing mix of craft beer breweries with exceptional offerings and excellent taproom digs to boot. Here are some new (and new-ish) spots to visit, along with some old storied favorites that have made enough changes to merit a fresh look.
Three New Breweries
Turkey Forrest Brewing
Situated inside Big Owl Craft Beer House, Turkey Forrest is the beer love child of Louie Espinoza and Oscar Gonzalez. While technically considered a “nano brewery,” there’s nothing small about the team’s stellar beer program. The small production facility does not distribute, but they do offer crowlers to-go of their current offerings.
A rotating tap list that’s influenced by the team’s Mexican-American roots sets Turkey Forrest apart from other breweries. Beers like Chasing Marranitos (as in marranitos pan dulce!!) Russian Imperial Stout and Aguas Frescas-Tamarindo Sour are call-backs to the neighborhood that surrounds them. The team also holds their own when brewing traditional styles such as the Costal DIPA and The Chase American Stout. Don’t miss this “never miss” brewery.
Bad Astronaut Brewing Co.
Opened few months ago in a 36,000-square-foot abandoned screw factory, the massive brewery, which touts a cyberpunk neon aesthetic, has been quick to ramp up production and distribution. Founders Chris Fall and Craig “Rocky” Keener, both hailing from Karbach Brewing, aim to produce mostly crushable, low ABV beers in their initial offerings.
Beers like Cloud Punch German Pilsner and Cruis’n Through Helles Lager are fresh yet delightful retellings of classic German styles. Expect to see their beers popping up on tap handles at local bars and in cans at local supermarkets.
Black Page Brewing Co.
Named after a historically complicated Frank Zappa song, Black Page’s brewpub is situated on the White Oak Bayou in the Near Northside neighborhood across from White Oak Music Hall. that specializes in naturally carbonated German style lagers and adventurous American style ales. The brewery itself is quite stunning – the interior consists of a beautiful minimalist design surrounded by an elevated outdoor patio amongst the trees.
Brash Brewing Company/Facebook
Their beers are the product of head German master brewer Henryk Orlik, a recent transplant from Louisiana favorite Abita Brewing with a resume that includes brewing everywhere from Canada to Cleveland. Known as the ‘beerfather’ to famous Abita brands like Purple Haze and Andygator, he’s a prized asset to the Houston craft scene.
Amongst their current tap lineup, their Houston Hades Lager truly stands out. Refreshing and naturally carbonated, the bready, lightly bittered lager is a can’t miss amongst Houston’s current offerings.
Two Favorite Breweries Reimagined
Brash is back baby! After a recent acquisition by Equal Parts owners Matt Peterson and Nick Sorenson, Houston’s no apologies, heavy metal brewery has staged a resurgence for the ages. Principal in these efforts is the return of former head brewer Vince Mandeville who split ways with Brash’s original ownership a few years ago.
With the addition of Mandeville, the beers are as strong as ever.
In particular, The Mystik West Coast IPA (formally branded Pussywagon) is a vibrant piny double West Coast IPA with nuanced sweet undertones. At 7.6 percent ABV, this beer is the highlight of the mainstay lineup. For now, the brewery is only selling cans to go but plans are in the works to reopen the vast taproom.
Whole Foods Brewing
Located in the Amazon-owned grocer’s Galleria store, Houston’s Whole Foods Brewery is one of two facilities in the store’s North American portfolio. The Houston location in recent years has served as a type of proving ground to jump start successful brewing careers — see Dave Ohmer of Seek Beer Company and James Carlyle of Ingenious Brewing.
At the beginning of 2020, Chris Shelton took the reins and hasn’t looked back. Chris, whose global experience includes brewing stints at world renowned Toppling Goliath along with stops in Copenhagen and Korea, brings a fresh prospective to the revamped program.
Focusing heavily on Hazy New England IPAs and experimental collaborations, the breadth of the new program has produced a distinct style. Ya Sabes Dark Lager (a collaboration with Feathered Serpent Meads) is a beer/mead hybrid sourced with organic local wildflower honey. Its roasty, bold, and ‘forward’ drinking with just the right punch of sweetness. The Star Sailor SMaSH and Wholelistic Hazy IPA are also worth checking out.
6 Quick Hits
On the prowl for some beers to pick up for your next imbibing session? Here’s a list of other outstanding new brews from around the city:
Somethin’ Light, Light Beer, 4 percent ABV, 10 IBU: Hands down the best light beer on the market — crisp, refreshing, and extremely easy drinking. Beers like this one are made for patios.
Local Lager, Light American Lager, 4 percent ABV, 10 IBU: Another great, light drinking beer with a dash of hop flavor from three varietals — Chinook, Strata, and Simcoe — this beer has the best of both worlds.
Pikes Peak Pilsner, 5.2 percent ABV, 30 IBU: This classic pilsner with a touch maltiness is a wonderful interpretation of the historic style.
Donny Who Loved Bowling, American IPA, 6.9-percent ABV: Clear, golden, dank and dry, it’s everything an IPA should be — even Jeffery Lebowski wouldn’t pass it up.
Equal Parts Brewing
MKII, Hellas, 5.1 percent ABV: Clean, crisp, and spicy with a hint of sweetness, this beer is slightly on the thick side for a traditional Hellas, but the proof is in the final product. You wont regret buying a case.
Super Heavy, Barleywine, 15.7 percent ABV, 68 IBU: This collaboration brewing project with The Brew Bros and The Pint Exchange is HEAVY! Dangerously rich, complex, and delicious, drink with extreme caution as the enormous ABV could prove...bothersome.
Ralph Palmer is a local beer blogger, co-host of the Beer, Blood and the Bayou podcast, and a partner in the barbecue pop-up Deckle and Hide. Follow him on Instagram at eyefearnobeer.